David Brooks, famous dichotomist, meditates on the health care proposal Hillary Clinton. This is to say that he uses the anecdotes of a political opponent some 15 years ago to describe her as "icy" (three times in 700 some words) and nameless sources to describe her "evil look." The column is an abomination for other reasons as well, not the least of which is the fact that Brooks accuses Clinton–Hillary Clinton I say–of being "Manichean." Up until recently for David Brooks, being Manichean about matters of right and wrong was a virtue. No longer:
Moreover, the debate Clinton is having with Barack Obama echoes the debate she had with Cooper 15 years ago. The issue, once again, is over whether to use government to coerce people into getting coverage. The Clintonites argue that without coercion, there will be free-riders on the system.
They’ve got a point. But there are serious health care economists on both sides of the issue. And in the heat of battle, Clinton has turned the debate between universal coverage and universal access into a sort of philosophical holy grail, with a party of righteousness and a party of error. She’s imposed Manichaean categories on a technical issue, just as she did a decade and half ago. And she’s done it even though she hasn’t answered legitimate questions about how she would enforce her universal coverage mandate.
Gee. If Ms. Clinton has a point about mandates, then why doesn't David Brooks talk about it? After all, that would be the foundation, so it seems (since she has a point) of Hillary Clinton's position. Instead of a policy discussion (which, agree or disagree, you will have with Paul Krugman), Brooks treats his readers to, ironically, a little "politics of personal destruction."